Archive for the ‘Manuscript collections’ Category

14
Dec

Miss Susanna Olmsted Her Book

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

adviceOne of the pieces in the Charles P. Wells collection that I enjoyed finding is a copybook, owned by Susanna Olmsted. The poem, written by Esther Lewis, seems to have been written out by Susanna’s friend, E.Benton, presumably prior to Susanna’s marriage.

The first page reads:

Advice to a Lady lately Married

Dear Peggy since the single State / You’ve left & chose yourself a Mate / Since metamorphos’d to a Wife / And Bliss or Woe’s insur’d for Life

A friendly Muse the way would show / To gain the Bliss & miss the Woe. / But first of all I must suppose / You,ve with mature reflection chose /

And this premis’d I think you may / Here find to married Bliss the way. / Small is the province of a Wife / And narrow is her Sphere in Life /

Within that Sphere to move aright / Should be her principal Delight. / To guide the House with prudent ease / And properly to spend & spare /

To make her Husband bless the Day / He gave his Liberty away.

susannaThe final page is where we find out the book was owned by Susanna. I spent several hours trying to connect Susanna Olmsted with the Wells family, but wasn’t able to do so. I may keep trying! There were few enough families in Hartford when this was written (1775), that I’m sure we have a connection in a ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ sort of way. This is my final post about the collection. I have arranged it all, and the finding aid is in progress. I hope you will visit the Watkinson and use the collection. Thank you for reading!

6
Dec

Friendship album

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

dedicationA common practice in the nineteenth century was to maintain a friendship album. Though mostly kept by women, entries were often from both men and women. The albums contained poems and stories, and served a purpose similar to a high school yearbook or a Facebook wall.

Lucy Strong was the sister of Charles Wells’ wife, Jane Naomi (Strong) Wells. As we can tell from the album’s dedication, in 1832 Lucy attended (or perhaps just visited) Wesleyan Academy, now Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

She received entries from several men there, including one from Columbia, South Carolina, and another from New Hartford, Connecticut.

While often the entries were just text, some, such as this entry from Clarissa Talmage, were far more intricate.

Though water damaged, the pages all remain legible. It’s great to have this example of a nineteenth century custom in the collection.

*I have learned from online histories of Wilbraham & Monson that Wesleyan Academy was the first co-ed boarding school in the country. The wording in the dedication makes it sound like Lucy was a student there, but in my quick search I was unable to find a date for co-education.

 

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1
Dec

Juvenalia of Charles P. Wells

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

When Charles P. Wells died, it was reported in Hartford’s two prominent daily newspapers. The Hartford Daily Times described his character as “peculiarly self-contained and reserved.” Similarly, the Hartford Daily Courant wrote that “Partaking largely of the Quaker character of his father, he led a quiet, undemonstrative life, and in some sort the world went by him.”

Charles P. Wells’ collection, with its many pages of Bible study notes, does suggest that quiet study was a significant part of his day-to-day life. There are other pieces in the collection, though, that provide a glimpse of a more playful side.

front_streetWhile in his early 20s, Wells entered into several “agreements” with friends. One, signed with his friend John Corning, was that neither man would go to Hartford’s Front Street for a month. Another was that Wells and a friend would not “associate with any young woman damsel or girl” for one year.

young womanBy far, the most intricate of these was the Hebedatombobyboosthimout Club (no, I don’t know how you pronounce that). The initial club document I found is three handwritten pages, in small script, with little space between the lines. Additionally, there is a Book of Record. At the end of the first entry, written in pencil (in a different hand), is a list of the four members: Charles Stanton, L.H. Goodwin, Charles Wells, and John Corning.

The document and the record book are not easy reading. But they are certainly among the more unique items in the Wells collection. I encourage you to visit the Watkinson and take a look.

club 1 club 2 club 3

16
Nov

Audubon letter

   Posted by: rring

Recently acquired!

img230Autograph Letter from John James Audubon to Robert Havell, Jr., dated July 21, 1839.

With instructions to deliver casks of natural history objects to Sheffield, and wishing him a pleasant voyage to America. Having spent 1837-39 in England, finalizing the publication of the Birds of America, Audubon writes to Havell days before both men depart for America: “…We will sail on Monday next . . . from this port for New York on board the packet ship the George Washington . . . You and Mrs. Havell and daughter will sail from London on the 1st of August . . .”

Upon their arrival, Havell and his family stayed with the Audubons in Brooklyn before moving to Ossining, NY, and subsequently to Tarryown, where he spent the remaining years of his life painting and engraving landscapes and views of the Hudson River and of American cities.

This is a nice addition to the collection, especially since our copy of Audubon’s Birds of America was Robert Havell’s own copy–it sold to a New York firm just after Havell died, and bought that same year by Dr. Gurdon Russell, Trinity Class of 1834, who gave it to the College in 1900.

4
Nov

19thC version of the e-mail string

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Charles P. Wells collection would be organized into three series: personal, business, and extended family. The personal series is the largest, comprising correspondence, Bible study notes, and other material related to Wells’ day-to-day life. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the 1830s and 1840s and is arranged alphabetically by author. Among those who wrote to Wells with regularity are his wife, Jane Strong Wells (when she was out of town), Henrietta Blake, Jerusha Clark, Emily Bond, Haynes Lord, S. Wells Williams (who spent time as a missionary in China), and H. W. Warner. It is a mixture of family and friends, as many of us have today. Nineteenth-century and 21st century correspondence have their similarities and differences, and the Wells collection provides the opportunity to examine some of these.

MrNLFosterOver the past few decades, as email has become part of our daily lives, we have grown accustomed to strings of messages gathered together. Pull up one message, and you can read all of them. Nineteenth-century correspondence lacked threads, and extant correspondence has a greater chance of being one-sided. This is not to say that you won’t find both (or all) sides of a conversation; it just isn’t as common as with our modern day communication. As I have sorted the correspondence, I found there are in fact pairs of letters within the collection.

There are certain conventions researchers will notice in most 19th century correspondence. While today we rely on date stamps, Wells and others would mention the date of the letter to which they were replying. This was key to determining the first matching set of letters.

Wells’ letterbook begins with a letter dated June 12, 1830 to Nathan L. Foster.

[MrNLFoster]

Looking through Foster’s folder, it was easy to see that this letter prompted Foster’s reply the following month.

[FriendCharles]

FriendCharlesFoster wrote that Wells’ “favour of the 12th ult” was in front of him. There are other hints that these two go together. Both mention procrastination and the concept of carpe diem. My favorite aspect of Foster’s letter is that he includes in his first paragraph a line that so many of us use all the time, “I was extremely busy.”

Though I have not yet had time to confirm a connection, there appears to be a draft of a letter to Jerusha Clark that matches with a reply in her folder.

It is quite possible for matching letters (or other writings) to be held by different repositories. As I researched Nathan L. Foster, I found that the American Antiquarian Society holds a collection of Foster’s diaries. I have no way of knowing if Foster mentions Wells at all in his diaries, but if I were a scholar of either, I might make a trip to the Society to find out.

There is far more to learn from the Wells correspondence than I can fit in a single blog post. When the collection is open for research, I encourage you to visit and explore it for yourself.

(If you are interested in properly archiving your personal email so that someone else can read it 150 years from now, the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program has a PDF with tips on preserving your own media.)

28
Oct

Processing the Papers of Charles P. Wells

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

IMG_5084A few months ago the Watkinson was fortunate to receive the papers of Charles P. Wells. The image shows the contents of one of the boxes of material when I started working on it. Now, after an initial pass through the entire collection, all the papers have been unfolded and placed in folders.

Objects that came with the collection are currently in a separate box.

The next task is to make sure the papers are organized in a way that will make sense to researchers, and will help them find information that is pertinent to their work. What seems to make the most sense is to group them in three series: personal papers, business papers, and papers pertaining to the extended Wells family.

After all the papers have been organized, I will put together a guide to the collection. Called a finding aid, it is like a table of contents for the collection. This will be available online, and anyone who would like to study Charles P. Wells will be welcome to research the collection.

Over the course of the next few posts, I will detail some of the items in the collection to give you an understanding as to what is available, and what you can learn about Wells and his life here in Hartford.

 

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16
Sep

Reynolds collection pics

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & MSS]

reynolds2As mentioned in a previous post, we received a rich set of material from Jon Reynolds last fall.  Mr.  Reynolds has sent us more material over the last year and we are integrating it into the collection.  Michelle Sigiel, an archives intern from Simmons College has come across a set of approximately 75 slides depicting Vietnam in 1963.  These images give us a fascinating look into the American war in Vietnam.

Montagnards, also known as “The Degar” are indigenous people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.  Many Degars worked with American Special Forces and were a critical part of the American military effort.

We are in the process of making this collection available for research and plan to complete this phase late this term.

The first two images picture Montagnards. Pic 3 is of a US plane flying over South Vietneam; pic 4 is of South Vietnamese troops; pic 5 is of army helicopters, and the final pic is of Vietnamese children.

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9
Sep

Gift: Papers of Roger Clarke

   Posted by: rring

Roger ClarkeThe Watkinson is very pleased to announce the gift of the professional papers and working library of CT-based architect Roger Clarke (1936-2011). Clarke was born in England (Castleford, Yorkshire), studied at Liverpool University, apprenticed in Germany, worked in London for several firms, and in 1963 met Marjorie Donnelly, an American who was in England making her way back from the Peace Corps in the Philippines as part of the first wave of volunteers sent by JFK. They hit it off and wrote to each other but time and distance took its toll. In 1967 Clarke took a job in Philadelphia, and later moved to New York City, where he worked for two prestigious firms, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Edward Larabee Barnes. Marjorie was working as a book editor in New York where they reunited and were married. They moved to Collinsville, CT in 1972. He worked for Henry Shadler in West Hartford, then opened a firm in Collinsville in 1974 with architect Richard Swibold. They were at the forefront of the “green” movement in the 1970s, which was in its infancy, designing houses with passive solar heating systems and other efficiencies. Through his work on The Old State House, Clarke began to develop his deep interest and enthusiasm  for historic preservation.  He worked on properties such as the Charter Oak Temple (the state’s first synagogue), Gillette Castle, the mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park, the Butler-McCook House in Hartford, the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, and dozens of other projects.

The donor of the collection is Marjorie Clarke, and it will be processed for research as soon as possible.

19
Jul

Papers of Ben Bernard Barber ’65

   Posted by: rring

BarberOn June 30th Peter Rawson and I drove down to Potomac, MD to pick up a great gift to the Archives–several decades of the professional papers of Ben Bernard Barber ’65, who last year received the Alumni Achievement Award for his book Groundtruth: Work, Play and Conflict in the Third World (2014).

Ben came to Trinity from New York City, joining the fraternity QED, serving as the College’s delegate to the Connecticut Intercollegiate Student Legislature and on the staff of The Trinity Tripod, and was also involved with Hillel and the Political Science Club. He majored in French, and following graduation, his “gap year” turned into 15 years of traveling, writing poetry, and occasionally working as a carpenter throughout India, Asia, Europe, and the United States. He earned a master’s degree in journalism at Boston University, a certificate in French studies from the Sorbonne in Paris, and a certificate in Asian studies as a Gannett Fellow at the University of Hawaii.

He found work as a foreign correspondent for The Observer, USA Today, the Washington Times, and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications, and later served as State Department bureau chief for the Washington Times and then as a senior writer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Egypt. He continues to write on foreign affairs today as a columnist for The Huffington Post and The American Legion Magazine.

Ben has also taught as an adjunct professor of foreign policy at Georgetown University and George Mason University, and has delivered lectures on foreign affairs at institutions such as the U.S. Naval Academy, the National Defense University, and Johns Hopkins University. For the U.S. Information Agency, he designed and taught seminars for journalists in 10 African countries, and has appeared as a foreign policy expert on several television networks, including CNN, Fox, and BBC.

img195In 2014 he published Groundtruth: Work, Play and Conflict in the Third Worlda collection of photographs and vignettes about the development of dozens of countries in the Third World, often portrayed in the media as a cliché for poverty, war, and injustice. “For every trouble-making gunman you find in the turbulent corners of the Third World,” he writes, “you find a million decent hardworking men and women raising their children with eyes full of sunshine and hope.”

The archive documents his career as a journalist, and comprises electronic files, correspondence, photos, notes and press clippings. It will be processed and available for use by students, faculty and outside researchers as soon as possible.

25
May

Prize-winning Chemistry Essays

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & Manuscripts]

chem paper1The Chemical Prize Essay collection in the Trinity College Archives contains 327 chemical essays submitted by students at Trinity between 1858 and 1905.

These essays were submitted as part of a competition among students in to win the first place prize of $30 and the second place prize of $20.

The prize began in 1858 as a contest for seniors and became a junior prize in the mid-1880’s.

Essays were submitted to the Professor of Chemistry.  These included Rev. Thomas R. Pynchon, Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1854-1879; H. Carrington Bolton, Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1880-1887; Robert B. Riggs (pictured here), Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1888-1929.Riggs Robert B ca 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

chem paper2The assigned essay topic each year was predetermined, with topics concerning chemicals, new technology, plants, light, or the metric system. The essays are organized in alphabetical order of the essayists’ last names, and they include both the winning essays and the other contestants’ essays.

Jarvis Laboratory interior undatedJarvis Lab (undated)